Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Keep Calm and Carry On

Somehow or other, this old war time poster has become a bit of a cult image it seems, according to BBC Online Magazine

This is a bit of a "British Thing" - that sense of pragmatism in the face of adversity, the famous stiff upper lip and the belief that what one really needs in a crisis is a good cup of tea.

Given the fact that the UK economy is (to quote an oft overused phrase) "going to hell in a hand cart", our children are the most physically and emotionally unhealthy in Europe (thanks to us selfish adults) and that we are stuck in the midst of the worst winter weather in eighteen years, it is perhaps more timely than ever. In the face of everything, let's just keep calm, not make a fuss and get on with it.

From a Christian viewpoint it makes particular sense (to me at least) - if God is in charge, why panic? We are reminded time and again in scripture to fear no evil if we trust in God. It is sound advice, because panic seldom achieves anything.

And on the subject of not panicking - "don't panic Mr Manwaring!" being the famous cry of Corporal Jones in 'Dad's Army' and of course "Don't Panic" the wonderfully British soothing words on the cover of the 'Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy' - panic remains an essentially foreign idea to British culture.

We prefer to moan instead. As Stephen Fry recently pointed out, when Americans say "Only in America" it is an expression of national pride, when we say "only in Britain" it is invariably the start (or end) of a long moan or rant.

So maybe keeping calm and carrying on are good messages, but maybe we need some more positive messages as a nation too. Because like so much in British culture, this poster is about facing hardship with stoicism, and not about seeking change and transformation - about bearing the problems rather than finding solutions.

We need first to believe in the possibility of change if we are to change things or be changed ourselves. That, maybe is something missing in British culture, and needs restoring.

1 comment:

BJ said...

I am just finding your blog and enjoy reading it. I am following you now. God Bless